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Recs for a Birthday Dinner

My fiance and I have a tradition of taking each other out for our respective birthdays as our "gift" to each other. Last year, we went to Eleven Madison Park for mine and I took him to Keens. We're looking for suggestions for a place for a Sunday evening dinner in late January. The total budget is $250. We'd like to ideally have about a bottle of wine, but if cost is prohibitive, will be fine with a glass or drink each. My wish list includes Le Bernardin, Daniel, Per Se, Jean Georges and Masa but I don't think we'd be able to work within the budget at any of those. We are open and adventurous eaters. I love seafood and fish but am really open to any cuisine. What I'm really looking for is a memorable experience. Both EMP and Keens (in very different ways) were magical meals -- the food, ambiance, rooms, etc. Food wise, I'd be happy with 15 East or Yasuda, but want a warm setting and non-hurried pace, so don't think that either of those would be appropriate for this occasion. I'd love to hear your ideas of "special occasion" places that don't completely break the bank but has an impact in terms of quality of food/service/ambiance. Thanks!!!

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Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

15 East
15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

Jean Georges
1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

Le Bernardin
155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

Masa
10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

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  1. I had a great meal at Bouley a few weeks ago during lunch. I'm not sure how their dinner price fits into your budget, but the room is pretty and the service was excellent.

    1 Reply
    1. re: coasts

      I also had a great meal at Bouley recently, but they are not open on Sunday. If it's possible, could you have dinner on either Saturday or Monday. Bouley would be wonderful for your special occasion.

    2. What a great tradition!

      We're going to Degustation for my birthday, which is one of my favorite restaurants. It may not work for you if you want the 2 person table, staring into each other's eyes over candlelight thing, because it's done almost sushi-chef style, with all diners seated at a common narrow table around the cooking area.. Also, I think they only do walkins on Sundays.

      I would also maybe suggest Sakagura? Though the entrance to the restaurant isn't romantic, the ambiance of the restaurant itself is definitely magical in terms of food and layout. It's a little lower in cost than some of the other meals mentioned in your post, and might work out well.

      All of the options you've mentioned sound like they'll be great! Have fun!

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      Sakagura
      211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

      1 Reply
      1. re: InfoMofo

        I haven't been, but Degustation was going to be my recommendation, based upon what I've read/heard. Their tasting menu seems like a phenomenal value and well within your budget.

      2. Oh, also, what about Bohemian? I've heard raves about it, both food- and price-wise. Plus, it's pretty sleek and hidden, which is always fun.

        1. What about Kyo Ya?

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          Kyo Ya
          94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

          1 Reply
          1. re: poutinelover

            That was my thought, too, but it could stretch their budget. When I took my girlfriend there last March, the total cost including tip was just over $300, including two glasses of sake apiece, from what I recall.

          2. You can manage Per Se if you eat in the salon. We made it out of there for $300 all in, and in retrospect we could (read: should) have ordered less. The downside is the no reservations policy, and the fact that if you want a bottle of wine, you'll have to cut way back on the food. Or eliminate it completely. Although the service is fantastic, you may not feel as coddled as you would in the dining room. Thus, it may not be magical enough for you. But it was just around this time last year that we ate there, and I found the room (the Christmas tree was up) and view very beautiful.

            1 Reply
            1. re: small h

              I ate in the dining room at Per Se for the first time on Friday and was impressed by how beautiful the salon is. I certainly wouldn't hesitate to have a special meal there.

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              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019